Denmark Wants To Label Food Based on Environmental Impact

Denmark—Here’s a concept: food products labeled so that, at a glance, anyone can tell how much of an impact it had on the environment and climate before it made it to the shelf.

Denmark wants to do precisely that.

According to CNN, besides the obvious effect of letting people know what they’re buying, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council also sees it as an opportunity to promote best practices when it comes to mitigating the effects of farming on climate change.

The director of the council, Morten Høyer, admits that it will be a difficult system to implement. Denmark has been working with the European Union for 10 years now, in an attempt to reduce all environmental issues to a number on a bottle.

Livestock plays a big role in climate change, given the amount of water, land, and feed animals require. Mileage covered between farm and table and pesticides used also have to be taken into account. Plants that require lots of water would have a worse rating than plants that require less.

“We must include every piece of information so products like plant-based substitutes for ground meat has information on the climate impact of the soy in the product which is produced in South America,” Høyer told CNN.

This would also require finding a measurement process. The production of CO2 and the use of water don’t have a quick and easy measurement in common, and the effects of water usage are wide-ranging and more difficult to simplify and quantify than the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere by gasoline-powered vehicles.

It might not change much; people who need meat-based protein will need it, whether it’s easy on the environment or not. Plants that use lots of water, but are necessary staples, will remain necessary.

On the other hand, it might galvanize companies to reduce their environmental impact, and it will definitely raise awareness.